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Rosemark Celebrates Historic District Designation

By Thomas Sellers Jr.Rosemark dedication groupRosemark McCala chatsRosemark old school picRosemark graphic

Beside the people, there were three key components of true American small town.
Historic Archives of Rosemark and Environs member Ruth Billingsley noted the trio and how the ones that were in Rosemark, Tenn., helped shape the town as it today. Also the that trio helped Rosemark be declared a historic landmark by Millington, Shelby County and State of Tennessee.
“Every strong small town needed a store, school and church,” she said. “And as you can see today as we stand here the presence of some of those.”
The historic marker unveiled on the grounds of Richland Associate Reform Presbyterian Church read “Rosemark National Historic District: Land Grant 1788.”
But before HARE member, author and Judge Jon P. McCalla pulled the cloth off the marker with the help of dignitaries, several people attend the festivities before the ceremony. From the Rosemark Civic Club to the Rosemark Garden Club were on hand informing event-goers about their organizations and the town they call home.
There were games and activities for children. Historic displays gave a view of Rosemark at the turn of the 20th century like the 1952 Ford 8W Tractor provided by Arnett Tractor and Equipment.
People from all over Shelby County came not only to hear music from We Be 3 and inspect classic cars in the Tipton-Rosemark Academy parking lot, they also got a quick history lesson on Rosemark.
Billingsley and other HARE members provided maps, excerpts of the book on Rosemark, photos and physical artifacts. And HARE taught about the legacy of the area’s first stores, school and church.
Richland Associate Reform Presbyterian Church was founded in 1866. And four structure later, the church stands next door to TRA.
In April, Richland’s new pastor Kent Moorlach arrived with is family. Moorlach is a native of California and recently moved from Anaheim just outside of Los Angeles.
“It is great to be out here today getting a crush course on the history of Rosemark,” Moorlach said. “There is such rich history here through the agriculture especially.”
Moorlach noted how the Bible refers to planting seeds and growth from the earth to teach life lessons. He said it is apparent the people of Rosemark understand how the principles of farming apply to life.
Moorlach has three children and his wife Stephanie is expecting. There were many school age children enjoying the moon bounce, putt-putt and food.
Some students from TRA were at a both with administrator Andrew Womack informing the public about the history of the Rebels and how the school building for a brighter future.
Billingsley said the foundation for TRA was laid with Rosemark School. Along with other schools in the area like Bolton and Millington, many current community leaders were education in Rosemark School.
That building stood among the Masonic Lodge, two churches and many historic homes occupied by families like the Thompsons and Moores.
Both family were involved in the business community of early Rosemark. The Moore Brothers’ Store opened in 1896 and was the headquarters for the family’s farming and ginning operations. It was also a general store for the community. On Rosemark Road the Richland Farmers and Mercantile Association (Thompson Store) was opened in the 1890s.
Later the Rosemark Band and Trust came paving the way for Patriot and Brighton banks of today. With so much heritage and history still alive and vibrant today, Rosemark was declared a National Historic District.
Five proclamations were read during the program noting the historic contributions of Rosemark to Shelby County, Memphis, West Tennessee and the Mid-South. The first proclamation was given by Millington Mayor Terry Jones. Shelby County Commissioner Terry Roland was next reminiscing on the town that help shape his life growing up in nearby Millington.
State Representative Ron Lollar spoke on the dedicated work of HARE and people like McCalla in gaining the recognition and this distinction for Rosemark.
State Senator Mark Norris spoke on his career and the impact Rosemark had on it before he read from his proclamation. Then it was time for the keynote speaker and final proclamation from Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell.
Luttrell pinpointed the family values on display at the event and how that is one of Rosemark’s strongest assets.
The ceremony was hosted by Rev. Cary E. Vaughn, an alumnus of TRA and resident of Rosemark. Moorlach and Rev. Eugene Brooks Jr., from Greenwood A.M.E. Church delivered prayers during the dedication program.
From Vaughn to Luttrell, all who participated in the dedication all said the history of Rosemark is too rich to try to squeeze into three hours on a Saturday afternoon. And the marker standing in Downtown Rosemark represents all those who help shaped the town through its schools, churches and businesses.
“This day is also about the future of Rosemark,” McCalla concluded. “There is still so much potential for Rosemark.”

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  • Chris Frame

    GREAT article! Thanks Thomas.

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